I think it’s a great time to be a micro business.
You see, despite the recession and these challenging economic times, modern technology and communication tools have made it possible to set-up, develop and grow a successful micro business from pretty humble beginnings.
And as a micro business, you have the autonomy, flexibility and nimbleness to adapt and respond to the new opportunities that present themselves. I say “bring it on” 🙂
This week we’ve explored how modern technology has laid the foundations for success. And the great thing is you don’t need to be a techy to exploit them to grow your business.
Assuming you have a robust IT solution in place, you can now work from home almost as easily as you could in a supported office.
You can get a decent website for less than £1000, and if you get your head in the cloud, you can discover a huge range of software including modern CRM solutions to help you work smarter and more efficiently.
Finally long-tail searches mean it’s possible for your niche business to show up in Google’s organic searches.
It’s exciting times.
And thanks to modern communication tools like social media, skype and email, it gets better!
Hooray for modern technologies!
The Hub is only possible because of modern technologies. In fact, I’m sure it’s an experience many of you can relate to.
Because Jo and I live in different parts of the country, without the likes of Skype, Twitter and smart phones we simply could not work together.
But these modern tools have not just made partnerships possible. They’ve also exploded a host of other support mechanisms which empower and inspire micro business owners to success.
Here are my four favourites.
You are the most valuable asset in your micro business.
As such it makes sense to invest in developing your strengths and skills. I get frustrated when things don’t happen as quickly as I want them to and I’ve found coaching can totally accelerate my progress. I’ve invested in a range of different programmes and expert coaching and I’ve found it an effective way to develop my businesses.
The great thing about modern technologies is you’re no longer restricted to working with people in your geographical area. You don’t have to meet face to face and can instead use email and skype.
Confidence coach Sue Richie agrees:
“Being able to use Skype means I can work with a client, or groups of clients, anywhere in the world and email enables me to support them afterwards. They benefit from instant access to a range of resources as well as personal attention from me regarding any queries and concerns. Documents and screens can be shared in ‘real’ time which means they recieve the same kind of experience and support they would in a face to face situation, except they are in the comfort of their own home”.
So for example, if you struggle with confidence and self belief, you can work remotely with a coach and develop strategies to overcome your fears and press onwards.
If you blog, you can invest in an expert review. It’s a quick way to identify how your blog can be improved and how you can develop it to grow your sales, readership, reputation etc. For Gem Writing I invested in Stan Smith’s Spectacular Blog Review. It was great value and my 121 skype call gave me some cracking ideas and inspiration.
And if you struggle with social media, consider some training. It can help you avoid common pitfalls and ensure you invest your time wisely. If you’re after a training package you could try Social Media Prospector, or if you want 121 coaching, check out the numerous micro businesses who offer this service. Some of our contributors from Social Media week will be able to help.
In reality the possibilities to bring expert intervention into your business is endless. But before you jump, think carefully about what you want to gain, have some clear objectives and weigh up the cost of investment against the financial outcomes your expect to receive.
Have you noticed business is all about people?
In addition, you’re more likely to do business with people you know, like and trust. Probably the most effective way to achieve this is through networking. And whilst face-to-face networking is invaluable, you are restricted to the geographcial area where the group meets.
Enter social media.
Social media is a fantastic platform for networking and building relationships. Personally I have met some brilliant people on Twitter who inspire and support me – and I’m sure that’s a common story. In addition, whilst working on the Hub I’ve used social media to find likeminded people and a number of our fantastic contributors.
So exploit the power of social media not just for selling and directing people to your website, but also to forge relationships. And then strengthen those relationships through the use of other technologies like Skype for a face-to-face meeting. Your business (and your soul) will benefit from it.
If you want to really succeed with your micro business, you’ve got to stay hungry for knowledge and ideas.
Even if you stay just one step ahead of the competition your bottom line will thank you for it.
Modern tools make that so effortless and easy.
- Read blogs (hopefully the Hub is on your hit list)
- Attend webinars by the thought leaders in your field. Webinar programmes like Go To Webinar also enable participants to ask questions making it an interactive event
- Download ebooks like 7 Steps To Writing Copy That Sells
- Watch videos on YouTube
- Join mastermind groups like the Entrepreneurs Circle
- Ask questions in forums
- Get inspired…
One of my rules is to make innovation and creativity the lifeblood of my business.
Keep that birds eye view over your business and stay focused on what you can do to develop and grow it. Don’t get caught up in the day-to-day affairs or you’ll stagnate.
Instead keep learning and you will provide fertile soil to nourish your next business idea.
One of the strengths of a micro business is being able to create a temporary team. And the easiest way to do that is through outsourcing and using modern technologies to stay in touch and interact.
Micro businesses are often specialists in a particular field meaning there is a hotbed of talent out there that you can draw upon to add value to your own business idea. From copywriters to web developers, designers to social media advisors, virtual assistants to business support services, you can now hire people as and when you want them and avoid the complications and expense of full term employment.
Sarah Bosley, director at Occasional Assistants explains:
“Modern technologies have made flexible working possible by opening up a whole new way of communicating with the people you work with. With the majority of work completed electronically, you can be anywhere in the world and still have access to the documents essential to your business – making remote working a possibility for almost all companies”.
So is face to face defunct?
Whilst I love virtual working, in truth it’s still really nice to see people face to face!
So for indepth strategy meetings and comprehensive brainstorming I think you can’t beat a good, old fashioned face-to-face meeting!
And there are modern ways of doing that too.
When Jo and I want to meet up and strategise about the Hub, we head for Regus’ drop-in business suite at Bristol. It’s a half-way house between Plymouth and Staines and offers a more productive meeting environment than a cafe. Whilst at Regus we get free tea and coffee, access to wifi, printing and photocopying, and feel like we’re in a professional business environment.
What’s more it costs just £5 for a day pass or is free with a Regus Gold Card. Fab!
Enter a new way of working
I think modern technology has broken down geographical barriers.
I have a business partner in Staines, a blogging and writing coach in the States, an idea buddy in Cornwall, customers over the country and an informal support network who I’ve met on Twitter.
In fact, modern technologies have made it possible for me to meet and interact with all the above. It’s just brilliant!
And for me, this is where the real power and value lies. Sometimes your physical location can be limiting and restrictive. As you know if you’re really passionate about growing your business, it makes sense to surround yourself with people who:
- Challenge and stretch you
- Inspire you to think out of your comfort zone
- Enable you to see beyond what you think is possible
By widening your sphere of influence and tapping into the ideas and resources offered by people who have different experiences and perspectives, this suddenly becomes possible.
So embrace these modern communication tools and use them to widen your sphere. I wonder what will become possible in your micro business if you do that…
Today’s Micro Action
Commit to one way of using modern technology to grow your micro business. Perhaps you’ll:
- Invest in some expert coaching
- Sign up for a free webinar
- Identify 2 people you want in your network and use social media to build a relationship
- Outsource something you no longer have the time or skills to do yourself